- How to Photograph Various Skin Tones
- How a Photographer Modified an Old School Polaroid Camera for Instant Fuji Film (Video)
- Interesting Photo of the Day: A Tiny Tidal Wave
- A Rare Peek Into the Underground Safe Haven for Rare Historic Photos (Video)
Posted: 26 May 2014 06:17 PM PDT
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Getting the right photo exposure can be a bit tricky at times. Expose for the highlights and lose the dark areas, expose for the dark areas and blow out the highlights… it’s a never ending battle. Today’s photo tip answers a question about how to get the best photo exposure for different skin tones.
I was recently asked: “When taking pictures of black people, do you have to open up the f-stop more?” It’s a great question! In this case, they were referring to a studio lighting setup, but the issue remains in any photo lighting situation, not necessarily just with skin tones.
What if you are shooting a black dog and a white one?
Or, more commonly, a bride with a white wedding dress next to a groom in a black tux?
If we expose for the white area, we will get nice detail and properly show all the lace and beadwork in a wedding dress. Or the fur in a white dog, or all the subtle skin tones in a white person.
On the flip side, by exposing for the white areas, we will inadvertently underexpose the black areas. We will lose all the detail, and the black area will become nothing more than a big black blob.
We have problems going the other way, too!
If we expose for the black area, we show all the nice detail in the black areas of the photo, but the white parts are totally overexposed and blown out. We lose all detail and the white part is ruined.
Stop reading for a second and think, "What would you do? What is the best course of action?"
Most of you probably went with – “Expose for a middle of the road area. It’s not perfect, but at least you won’t totally lose either side.”
Good call. In fact, a middle of the road exposure is the concept that all reflectance light meters are based on. BTW – a reflectance meter is what is in your camera.
No matter what your light source is, when light hits a subject, it reflects off. The color, and even the types of materials present, have a fairly large impact as to HOW MUCH light is reflected.
White areas reflect more than black areas; velvet absorbs more light than satin.
After reflecting off the subject, the light goes into your camera. The meter absorbs all this light, and sets the exposure for a setting that is in the middle. The middle setting is calculated to be 18% gray, which is a whole book of its own. Just know that a middle setting is what your camera’s reflectance meter will give you. Not perfect on either end of the spectrum, but workable.
The other type of light meter is called an “incident” light meter. This is the type of meter that is outside the camera and is hand held. That is the one you see photographers hold up to a model’s face and fire off the lights. We most often see it used in a studio setting, but it works with any light source. We just tend to be too lazy to get it out for normal day to day stuff and rely on the meter in our camera.
An incident meter doesn’t measure the light reflected off a subject. It measures the amount of light hitting a subject. This may seem like basically the same thing, but it is radically different.
Reflected light is affected by color and the various reflectance properties in the frame. Incidence metering is measuring the light BEFORE it hits the subject and is not affected by color, etc. Measuring the actual light hitting a subject means we are properly exposing for the light as well as the colors in the photo. It will record colors and so on, exactly as we see them–under those lighting conditions!
The whites will record as white, the blacks will record as black, and everything else in between.
It is a far better way to meter your shots and that’s why you see the best photographers buying and using incident meters even when they have a perfectly good reflectance meter in the camera.
To answer the initial question… With a reflectance meter, yes, you have to open up to get the right exposure for black skin tones. (And close down for white.) With an incident meter, it doesn’t matter what colors are present.
If you want to truly master your camera–and get the photos you see in your most creative visions–you have to take your camera off automatic mode and start taking control. The first issues you will have are with photo exposure. Learn the various metering methods (in this photo tip) and you are one step closer to winning photo contests!
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Posted: 26 May 2014 05:22 PM PDT
What happens when you take a 1960s model Polaroid camera–which you can no longer get film for–and modify it so that it shoots modern film and allows you to attach a PocketWizard to it for using strobes? You can actually get some really fun results that are throwbacks to the film days of the past. In the video below, you’re invited into Alastair Bird‘s studio to see what kind of creations he can make with his hacked Polaroid–take a look:
The camera was modified by having the back replaced with a newer 4×5 and was outfitted with a new lens. (Via PetaPixel) A PC socket was mounted onto the camera, which allows the addition of PocketWizards and strobes. Since Polaroid no longer makes film, Bird is using Fuji Instant film.
One of the major drawbacks of shooting on instant film is you’re left only with a single 4×5 copy of the image. To get around this hangup, Bird set up a copy stand and photographed the images with a digital camera to produce digital versions of the images for use online and in portfolios.
Go to full article: How a Photographer Modified an Old School Polaroid Camera for Instant Fuji Film (Video)
Posted: 26 May 2014 02:32 PM PDT
Some photographers risk their lives for a shot. Jack Cohen risked his camera. Holding it out sans waterproof housing toward an approaching wave (dangerous move, Jack!), the American photographer managed to walk away with a miraculously dry camera and this fun play on perspective:
Cohen came out lucky this time by sparing his Nikon D300s, with speedy hands pulling the camera away from the approaching water just before his 1/2500 exposure went off. The result is a tsuna-mini that Cohen freely admits draws huge inspiration from big-wave photographers like Clark Little and Shane Grace.
Posted: 26 May 2014 11:28 AM PDT
Where do old photographs go when they are left behind in the wake of a digital age? As many may become lost forever, there are people working fervently behind the scenes (or in one case, beneath ground level) to help alter the fate of these images. In the depths of an old limestone mine in Iron Mountain, Pennsylvania stands the Bettmann Archives. This groundbreaking, yet relatively unknown, subzero facility is helping to restore and preserve more than 11 million historical images. Hillman Photography Initiative and the Carnegie Museum of Art developed this visually appealing and well-edited documentary about the archive:
Images of dark caves and underground waterways lead us to the entrance of the Corbis-Bettmann Image Archives. One would hardly think to find an image preservation facility underground, encased by glistening limestone walls next to water filled caverns. But the stable and easily manipulated environment of the rock mine acts as a safe house for this vast and valuable image collection—for a predicted 2,000 years!
Upon entering the facility, the very first words in the film are of Henry Wilhelm, the founder of Wilhelm Imaging Research:
Although Wilhelm meant these words in a more literal sense, they set the tone of what's to come. It is the ability of recording an exact moment in time that make photography and photographs so special. But the physical results—the film and the photos—are stamps of time themselves. Invaluable information about the past is hidden in these glass slides and film.
This was the driving force behind Otto Bettmann and Corbis Preservation Facility's work. The staff of the archive facility is extremely committed to the work they do, and the importance it has, and will continue to have, in society. Particularly as we advance into an age of digitization, the need for preservation of film artifacts has never been greater. Leslie Stauffer, the Production Control Coordinator at the archive facility explains,
Technology advancements and the rise in social media have played a big part in changing how photography is now made and viewed. It's estimated that Facebook users upload more than 300 million pictures a day, earning the site the unofficial title of largest photo archive in the world.
Wilhelm describes the other shift in photography:
Through a pessimistic eye, some see what was once a thoughtful and skillful art turned into a disposable and untreasured pastime with all the use of smartphone cameras, Facebook and photography applications.
But to the optimistic eye, there is also beauty in it. Wilhelm shares the benefits:
The documentary is thought-provoking at the very least. It's fascinating to think what this extensive archive system might mean in 2,000 years. It also leaves us with a multitude of questions to ponder. How have our perceptions of art and photography grown, changed, or adapted with the incline of digital photography? What is to become of the digital photographer's legacy? Will there indeed be a time when we revert back to film?
Go to full article: A Rare Peek Into the Underground Safe Haven for Rare Historic Photos (Video)
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